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5 numbers that tell the story of Ravens season

5 numbers that tell the story of Ravens season

The most telling number of the Ravens 2016 season is probably 8 -- as in eight wins, which simply aren't enough, and eight losses, which simply are too many for a team aspiring to make the playoffs.

As linebacker Zach Orr said while cleaning out his locker on Monday, "We finished 8-8. No matter how you look at it, with the highs and the lows, we’re an average football team right now."

Here are five other numbers that help tell the story of the Ravens season:

31 -- The total number of sacks by the Ravens, the team's lowest total since 2010 and the third-lowest total in franchise history.

Terrell Suggs, playing with a biceps injury much of the year, led the way with eight sacks. But Elvis Dumervil missed eight games and finished with three, and disappointing Za'Darius Smith had just one. Rookie Matt Judon finished with four sacks, but second-round pick Kamalei Correa was no factor as a pass rusher.

Timmy Jernigan finished second on the team with five sacks, though he had three in the first three games and had little impact over the final month of the season.

Quite simply, the Ravens pass rush was a nonfactor way too often.

83.5 -- Joe Flacco's final quarterback rating, which ranked 24th among regular starting quarterbacks.

Flacco threw for a franchise-record 4,317 yards, but that is misleading; he threw 672 passes -- the second-most in the league and also a franchise record. His average of 6.42 yards per attempt was the second-lowest of his career and illustrated the dink-and-dunk, checkdown nature of the Ravens offense.

Whether the knee injury was a factor, Flacco's mechanics were off all season. His accuracy suffered and his decision-making was questionable. He finished with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

In short, he wasn't nearly good enough.

141 -  Points by kicker Justin Tucker,  a franchise record. That speaks both to Tucker's remarkable season and to the Ravens' repeated inability to score touchdowns.

Tucker was exceptional. He finished 38-for-39 on field goals -- his 38 field goals led the league -- and the only miss was blocked. Tucker tied an NFL record by making 10 field goals from 50 yards or longer. (He was a perfect 10-for-10, in fact.)

But as tight end Dennis Pitta said, the Ravens made Tucker look too good. The offense frequently stalled in the red zone, settling for three points instead of seven. Two clues: They ranked 24th in third-down conversion percentage and 20th in the red zone.

367 -  Carries by the Ravens, the lowest total in franchise history. Despite repeated assurances from coach John Harbaugh that the Ravens wanted to run the ball -- the lack of running helped cost Marc Trestman his job as offensive coordinator -- the Ravens simply refused to do it.

After the season, Harbaugh insisted offensive coordinator Marty Mornhingweg "believes in running the football." But there was little evidence of that. That's a shame, because both Terrance West (193 carries, 774 yards) and especially rookie Kenneth Dixon (88-382) showed plenty of promise.

1,111-- Penalty yards piled up by the Ravens, the third-highest total in franchise history. Their total of 125 penalties ranks tied for third in team history.

Time and again, drives stalled because penalties left the Ravens in second or third-and-long situations and they lacked the offensive firepower or ability to overcome that.

To be sure, penalties hurt on special teams and defense as well; rookie cornerback Tavon Young had a strong rookie season but finished with a team-high nine penalties, including four in the last three games.

MORE RAVENS: Flacco not advocating a change at offensive coordinator

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What type of running backs are the Ravens looking for in this year's draft? GM Eric DeCosta explains

What type of running backs are the Ravens looking for in this year's draft? GM Eric DeCosta explains

The Ravens’ draft needs mostly stay within the front line on either side of the ball. 

They could use more defensive line and edge-rusher help, as well as more depth and a starter at inside linebacker. The interior offensive line could use depth, as could the tackle position. 

Aside from wide receiver, the Ravens’ needs aren’t all that flashy. 

But when the Ravens are on the clock with the 28th selection, should they stick to their best player available mantra, that could mean a running back comes off the board.

“You have to be big and strong and physical, but you also have to be durable,” general manager Eric DeCosta said. “That's a really important criteria for that position, and also be intelligent. We feel like we have a really good group of running backs on our team, and it'll just basically be who's available when we pick.” 

The Ravens set the NFL’s single-season rushing record last season due in large part to Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, but also backup running backs Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. 

At a position that is loaded, and also the heartbeat of the Ravens’ offense, there doesn’t appear to be any clear openings. 

“We set the record for rushing last year, so it's going to be hard for us this year,” DeCosta said. “So, we have to find as many good players as we can. I think that position is critically important to our offense.”

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That hasn’t stopped a few mock drafts from around the league projecting the Ravens might go with a running back in the early rounds. Should they do that, a few names to watch are D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, Cam Akers and J.K. Dobbins. All figure to be a few of the top running backs off the board. 

Even if the Ravens don’t pick a running back early in the draft, there’s still the possibility of selecting a back late with one of the Ravens’ nine draft choices. 

Should that happen, there will be a competition for the top three spots on the depth chart at running back for Baltimore.

“There are certainly running backs all throughout the draft in each round – first round all the way through the seventh round – guys that we think have the opportunity to come in and help us be the best team we can be, and we'll look at that,” DeCosta said.

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John Harbaugh concerned about potential hackers during virtual draft

John Harbaugh concerned about potential hackers during virtual draft

John Harbaugh is confident in the Ravens’ ability, as an organization, to manage the quarantine and go through as normal of an off-season as possible. 

His confidence in the off-season technology they’ll be using, however, is not as high. 

With members of the Ravens’ front office confined to their homes from now until the NFL Draft on April 23, they’ve had to adjust accordingly with virtual meetings and scouting sessions. 

Harbaugh has been assured by the IT department that they’ll be safe from any problems.

“My level of involvement has been every time I read something in The Wall Street Journal or New York Times that talks about how messed up Zoom is or some of these other deals that came out this morning, I immediately text it to our IT people,” Harbaugh said. 

The Ravens have been using the popular video conferencing site Zoom for their pre-draft meetings. 

“I’ve got some real concerns about that, and hopefully we’ll be okay,” Harbaugh said. “It’s kind of like that. We’ll see what happens. I really wouldn’t want the opposing coaches to have our playbook or our draft meetings. That would be preferable, if we can stay away from that.” 

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General manager Eric DeCosta, though, is a bit more confident than the head coach is.

“I have more confidence in Zoom than I do in Ozzie (Newsome), John, (owner Steve (Bisciotti) and team president Dick (Cass), with a copy of our draft board that they just leave in the car on their front seat or something like that,” DeCosta joked.

While the Ravens are focused on a virtual world as it relates to the NFL Draft, off-season workouts aren’t far behind. 

From there, the Ravens are waiting for word from the NFL on what their program over the summer could look like. That includes contingencies for both in-person and at-home workouts.

“I think it's up in the air just like it is with everything else with this situation,” Harbaugh said. “We've been told possibilities. We're kind of preparing for all that. The new CBA changes up some of the rules as far as what you're allowed to send them in their playbooks, some of the video teaching overlays, talk-overs and things like that.”

Harbaugh ensured they’ll be ready for any situation, but just like the rest of the NFL, and the country, the Ravens are playing a waiting game for what’s next.

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